Hiring a Challenge as Restaurants Work To Bounce Back From Pandemic

Apr 29, 2021

Credit WAOW Television

Just over a month away from the Wausau River District's "Dining on the Street" returning to downtown Wausau and some restaurants are still struggling to find the help needed to make it a success.

"When you look back a year ago, everything was different," said Pedro Pineda, Co-owner at Jalapenos Mexican Restaurante & Bar.

And the proof is in pandemic.

According to data collected by Wausau River District, businesses downtown believed overwhelmingly last year that there was no concern whether their business was at risk of closing.

Fast forward to now, only 30% of businesses feel that way.

The majority saying if disruption continues they're in trouble, and the river district is working to help.

"Marketing on social media in different ways to pivot our audiences is definitely something we are honing in on," said Leah Van De Loo, Assistant Director of Wausau River District.

But Pineda says finding people to work is the first course.

"I want to be able to give a good service to my customers, I want them to come and have a great experience. With the lack of employees, I'm afraid I wont be able to provide that 100 percent of the time," said Pineda.

Right now, Jalapenos is looking for cooks, bartenders, and wait staff.

About seven positions total.

And until then Pineda is doing everything he can. Whether that's serving behind the bar, or clearing tables.

"You got to wear different hats when you're in this position, and you need to do what needs to be done," said Pineda.

And with "Dining on the Street" beginning in June, and Cinco de Mayo around the corner, it's crunch time.

"We're just trying to be that support system throughout this entire process," said Van De Loo.

"I'm grateful for that... What I have to do on my end is be ready, [and] get ready for when better times come, which is right around the corner I hope...Hope is what drive us forward," said Pineda.